The Humberside Montessori School Elementary program offers an unparalleled opportunity for the ongoing development of your child as they enter into a new stage of development; this imaginative, social, creative child needs a planned environment and expansive course of study to support their burgeoning independence and potential.
The starting point for all courses of study in the Elementary Program is the “Great Lessons”; these impressionistic and scientific stories are presented every year and give the students the “big picture” of cosmology, astronomy, earth science, geography, chemistry, physics, biology, history, anthropology, cultural and social studies, language, math, music an art. Subsequent lessons offer the children keys for exploring these areas of human knowledge in more detail. The lessons are a starting point, an inspiration, for meaningful and deep learning.
Nurturing Imagination and Reason
Elementary aged students are naturally curious and have a strong internal drive to discover how our world works. They may ask “How does a fish breathe underwater?” “What number comes after a trillion?” “What causes a volcano to erupt?” Instead of simply giving them the correct answers, our Montessori elementary teachers ask the right questions; they tell stories to inspire the children’s imagination and tantalize them to explore on their own to find out more: about volcanoes and dinosaurs and Monet and gladiators and poppies and skateboards and butter churning and cheetahs and – there is no limit! Driven by their passions, the children are open to the input from the teacher that refines their reading, writing, reasoning and research skills.
Cooperation and Collaboration
Elementary aged children have a strong drive to be social and to collaborate. For this reason, most of the lessons and follow-up projects are done in pairs or groups of children. Each day, the children practice the social skills necessary to plan and carry out projects: delegation and division of labour, sharing resources, making group decisions, taking responsibility for actions and celebrating the success of peers. Conflict is not uncommon, but the motivation to resolve it comes from the children and their engagement with their projects. The Montessori teacher models and supports constructive and respectful problem solving. Learning how to work well with the different personalities and characteristics of other children in the classroom community is a significant life lesson with practical applications in the “real world” of high school, college and the professional workplace of the future.
An Agent in their Own Education
Students at Humberside Montessori School have a significant amount of input into how they are taught and control over how they learn. Their natural learning styles and preferences are respected and supported. The multi-age format of the classroom prevents comparison of children’ differences in ability and achievement. Lessons are presented in small groups to the children who are ready for them, regardless of their age. There is no social disadvantage to being bright, interested, and motivated at school. Likewise, there is no stigma for reviewing or repeating lessons to gain mastery. The child is free to continue to work with a material or concept as long as necessary, or to move on when they are ready for a new challenge.
Exploring Interests While Meeting Age-appropriate Standards
Elementary students study both broadly and deeply, covering many subject areas. The student often develops expertise in a subject that is especially interesting to them. Because there is not a rigid schedule or prescribed curriculum that the whole class must follow, the students can focus intently on their self chosen work, with minimal interruption. At the same time, they collaborate with the teacher to ensure that the basic skills for each grade are mastered. To support individualized plans of study, the teacher meets with students individually and regularly to plan and assess their progress.
Open-ended Creative Work
Each child’s response to a lesson is unique, and their follow up work reflects those individual differences. Your child is free to form or join a group to work with the concepts introduced in a lesson. For example, a group of children might have a lesson on the parts of a river. Some might choose to label an outline map with the rivers of North America. Others might choose to repeat the demonstration with the river model (and without the teacher), labeling for themselves the parts previously demonstrated. Another pair might be intrigued by a particular river mentioned in the lesson or by the river running through their city, and they might launch a research project about the Saint Lawrence River. Because the children are free to move around the classroom and see what others are doing, it’s not uncommon for an idea to spread; children are stimulated not just by the teacher’s lessons, but by each other.
Empowered to Seek Knowledge Beyond the Classroom
An important component of the Humberside Montessori School elementary program is what we call “Going Out”. Going Out occurs for a group of children when exploration of a topic exhausts the resources of the classroom. We want the children to be comfortable navigating the world, not just our classrooms. So, we have a few excellent books, but not everything there is to read about a topic. We have many evocative art and construction materials, but probably not the one perfect thing that a group of children need to build their model. As a result, the children must “Go Out” beyond the limits of the classroom to find the information or resources that they need.
A Going Out excursion is a planned undertaking by a small group of children. They find a resource in the community, schedule the outing, arrange for their own transportation and supervision (by a staff member), prepare themselves for the experience, conduct themselves with dignity while out in public, and return to share their research with the rest of the class. Each Going Out is an entire course of study on independence, responsibility and good citizenship – to say nothing of the intellectual rewards that children get from such experience. Going Out is a student-led initiative, which might happen occasionally or often, but is always deeply personal and memorable.